The Wrong Way Road Trip
Have you ever hit a moment in life when you felt the need to hit the reset button? That happened to me on the way to a conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. My friend and I were solving all the world's problems: we developed solutions for world hunger, global poverty, ending racism, and how to understand God's sovereignty and human choice. It was an amazing conversation, and it should have been recorded.
But after hours of talking, we realised that we werent seeing signs for Cincinnati, we were on our way to Nashville! Not that I have anything in particular against country music, but we were supposed to be heading north, not west. And so we had to hit the reset button - stop, turn around, and get back on track.
Life is like that - we find ourselves stuck in a moment and realise we've gotten off course. The good news is that God gives us a reset button called repentance in which we can get back on track.
The very first message Jesus preached included a call to repentance (Mark 1:14-15). The first sermon Peter preached included a call to repentance (Acts 2:38). And Paul, speaking to the sophisticated audience on Mars Hill in Athens, said that God now everywhere commands all people to repent (Acts 17:30).
What is repentance? Repentance is a change of mind and heart that leads to a change in action. It is turning from sin and turning and to follow Jesus. And it is rooted in an awareness that we have sinned against a holy God.
That means that repentance is not first and foremost because we have hurt other people, but because we have broken God's law. But it includes making things right on the human level, something we see in the story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10).
This guy was a chief tax collector which means he ran an extortion racket, but when it met Jesus, perhaps realising that something was missing in his life, he repented. He turned from his life of extortion and to a life of generosity. He hit the reset button, and got in on the kingdom of God.
Genuine repentance means that we own our sin - we don't blame others, we don't make excuses, we're not sorry we got caught - we own it, and we turn from it. True repentance isn't simply confessing our sin to God, and it's more than telling God we're sorry.
To repent means to acknowledge that we've blown, we made a mistake, we've sinned - but we run to Jesus, not away from him and discover again the refreshing joy found in God's presence.
Peter placed the challenge - and the benefit - of repentanc together when he told people
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord (Acts 3:19).
God has times of refreshing for us, and to get there, we need to repent.
Following Jesus is the greatest roadtrip EVER! But if we get off course, the best thing to do is get back on track. Repent.